Students try to save their music

March 19, 2008 6:17:57 PM PDT
Drastic cuts in education funding have schools looking hard for any way to save a dollar. At times like these, school arts and music programs are on the firing line, but one school is showing just how to keep the music playing.

They're the lucky ones. They have instruments to play and notes to read. On Wednesday, students at Claremont Middle School were taking it to the street, in front of the school, playing 75 songs to raise money for band equipment and trips.

"Music in Our Schools Today has donated a lot of instruments. That has been a big help. We have enough smaller instruments. Now we're looking for more exotics things like Oboes and Tubas and things like that," said Band Director Renae Briggs.

Renae Briggs has brought about a remarkable turnaround. 2-1/2 years ago she inherited a music program that had eight kids and few instruments. Now she is conducting more than 100 students. It's all about money, donations and volunteers.

"Our principal is pretty creative. He's pulled a lot of funds," said Briggs.

"There's never enough money, there's never enough support. There are for the academic curriculum, but for music and art, it still suffers tragically," said Ron Kriss, a middle school parent.

"The parents donate their time and their money, and energies. We just couldn't do anything without the parents," said Briggs.

They're behind today's play-a-thon. The goal is to raise $10,000 dollars because the arts are so important.

"It's one if the few activities that brings together kids from all different backgrounds, cultures, races, socioeconomic backgrounds. It brings them together in a positive activity. They have to work together to become successful," said Briggs.

"It really gives me a chance to express myself in ways I just don't get to otherwise," said Drew Debro, a band student.

"You get to experiment with notes, make your own rhythm and stuff. I really like it," said Katie Minart, a band student.

Maybe the one thing you notice when the band plays, is a change of attitude. A tribute to the magic that music creates.

"It's cool to be in the band, cool to be smart and that's a big change," said Kriss.

Music is about creativity, lessons learned from the parents today with innovative way to keep the money coming and the music playing.

If you want to contact your state senator or assembly member for help addressing the situation in your child's school district, here are the phone numbers and helpful email addresses in the link below.

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